Blowouts across Sloppy Saturday tarnished Round 16 of the 2021 NRL season, but the Storm continued to excite while the Broncos start to fight back.
Another round of NRL footy.
Another round of largely one-sided results.
In fact, only one round in the NRL era has produced a larger cumulative margin between winners and losers than the 214-point difference in Round 16 of the 2021 season.
There's been 603 rounds of the NRL regular season.
2021 has 3 of the top 20 (equal with 1998) and 7 of the top 100. The closest round this year, round 13, was decided by a total of 90 points (420th of 603 overall).
602nd and 603rd are both from 2019, decided by 16 ad 19 points.
— Liam (@pythagoNRL) July 4, 2021
The next round of gimmicky rule-changes feels as though they’re just around the corner.
How many different ways can you say the Melbourne Storm are an outstanding rugby league team?
Heck, they’re still going to get better when Harry Grant and Ryan Papenhuyzen are back on the field at full fitness.
This group would dominate regardless of the rules and they did just that against the Sydney Roosters on Thursday night. Sure, the Chooks are missing players and have had to deal with players moving in and out of the squad all season. Still, for the Storm to win 46-0 is a testament to their greatness as much as it is an indictment on the rules in which the game is played right now.
Unsurprisingly, Melbourne are $2.75 favourites to win the 2021 NRL premiership.
While Melbourne’s favouritism has plenty to do with their on-field dominance, Nathan Cleary’s shoulder injury has contributed to the Penrith Panthers drifting out to $3.50 from $2.75 a round earlier. Early reports over his possible return this season are positive. However, Cleary and the Panthers are relying on his shoulder responding well to treatment – something that isn’t always guaranteed.
Great news for the Panthers with Nathan Cleary to avoid surgery for now after suffering a labrum tear (via @LaraPitt_). Will undergo strengthening rehab with a usual return to play range of 3-6 weeks. On return can be functional limitations/increased risk of recurrent instability
— NRL PHYSIO (@nrlphysio) June 30, 2021
Penrith will still be a dominant team while Cleary sits on the sideline. It wasn’t perfect, but their 13-12 win over the Parramatta Eels on Friday night is proof the Panthers will still be among the top teams in the NRL until Cleary returns.
With a bye in Round 17 followed by the Warriors and Broncos, the schedule is on their side should Cleary make a recovery inside four weeks. If he does, his return will add another element to Penrith’s blockbuster clash against Melbourne in Round 20.
Footy fans enjoyed two games on Friday night separated by only one point each. However, regular programming resumed on Saturday as the winning teams combined for 148 points to the losers’ six.
- Sea Eagles 66 def. Bulldogs 0: More Tom Trbojevic domination as the fullback finished up with three tries, four line break assists, a try assist and 220 running metres.
- Titans 44 def. Raiders 6: 65 missed tackles for the Raiders sums up the final score better than anything else.
- Knights 38 def. Cowboys 0: Kalyn Ponga is back! With two tries and two try assists, the Knights #1 made an instant impact on his return from injury.
While the points flowed, this sloppy Saturday did little for the premiership race. The Bulldogs are fighting to avoid the spoon, the Raiders and Titans are just holding on to Top 8 contention while consistency issues plague the Knights and Cowboys. The Sea Eagles beating the Bulldogs doesn’t do much for the form guide either. Manly’s $13 to lift the Provan-Summons Trophy is worth considering given the uncertainty around Cleary and the Panthers, though.
However, seeing the Brisbane Broncos produce on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Suncorp Stadium gives life to the idea that they are finally starting to turn things around.
Kotoni Staggs looked excellent in his return while Tesi Niu continues to impress at fullback. Tyson Gamble’s infectious passion translated into a high-energy team performance as the Broncos handled the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 26-18 to win their fourth game of the season.
The Broncos have a prime opportunity to make it two on the trot when they face a Wests Tigers team coming off another big loss in Round 16 when the two meet at Suncorp in Round 18.
NRL Against The Spread Standings
The Canberra Raiders have arguably been the most disappointing team of the 2021 NRL season, and that is best reflected in their abysmal 3-12 record against the spread. The Melbourne Storm, meanwhile, continue to cash in for punters.
After Round 16
|Top 8||Bottom 8|
|Storm (14-2)||Panthers (8-8)|
|Eels (13-3)||Cowboys (7-8)|
|Sea Eagles (10-5)||Titans (7-9)|
|Sharks (9-6)||Roosters (6-9)|
|Rabbitohs (8-7)||Broncos (6-10)|
|Knights (8-8)||Bulldogs (5-10)|
|Tigers (8-8)||Warriors (4-11)|
|Dragons (8-8)||Raiders (3-12)|